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Preventing MRSA Infections: Scrubbing-In Protocols Include HVAC System

At a surgical center like the one at DISC Sports & Spine Center, fighting bacteria like MRSA is always top of mind. To keep surgical site MRSA infections at bay, the surgical team, cleaning team, and staff go to some extraordinary lengths to prevent bacteria from coming into the center. Prevention starts with designated protocols that are followed not only by the surgical team, but also by the cleaning team.

In a real-life replication of the TV show ER, before an operation begins, the surgical team “scrubs in,” cleaning their arms and hands thoroughly with a special solution and wearing protective gowns, gloves, and masks. What isn’t typically shown is the prep of the operating rooms, which are also kept in pristine condition, with the medical equipment and tools sterilized, walls and floors scrubbed clean, and every inch checked routinely.

There is one more presence in an operating room that a patient might not consider, but DISC does. An essential part of “scrubbing” the room is the monitoring and maintenance of the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. In a recent article in ASC Focus, Karen Reiter, RN, CASC, and administrator at DISC, talked to Robert Kurtz about the degree of care that goes into making sure that the air circulating through the surgical center is free of germs, primarily by making sure that the atmosphere and conditions are such that bacteria won’t be encouraged to grow. “When the percent of relative humidity in a room goes outside the optimal operating range,” Reiter said, “it can create a ripe environment for harmful bacteria to survive and thrive.”

To cut down on risk, DISC uses a computer-based building automation system in its center. “This is a sophisticated system that interfaces with our HVAC. It provides the ability to monitor the performance of our HVAC and make changes to its settings,” reported Reiter. Set to report the level of humidity, temperature, and pressure in each of the rooms in the center, it has an alert system in place in case one of the rooms falls below or above the safety zones and increases the risk of MRSA infection. 

Reiter keeps an eye on the system throughout the day and especially before a surgery: “We may decide to modify the temperature to ensure the surgical team comfort and optimal performance of the technology used during the procedure.” She also works closely with the ASC management team to keep the system in tip-top shape, replacing filters as needed and cleaning the hidden systems of pipes, ducts, and delivery systems.

This intense attention to detail is why, at DISC Sports & Spine Center, we are proud to maintain a zero MRSA spine surgery infection rate. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MRSA infections in the healthcare setting are decreasing, but any infection at all is discouraged. As this article suggests, DISC physicians and staff are going above and beyond to do everything they can to minimize your risks so you can get back to living your life as quickly, easily, and safely as possible.

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About the author

discmdgroup DISC Sports and Spine Center (DISC) is one of America’s foremost providers of minimally invasive spine procedures and advanced arthroscopic techniques. Our individually picked, highly specialized physicians apply both established and innovative solutions to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate their patients in a one-stop, multi-disciplinary setting. With a wide range of specialists under one roof, the result is an unmatched continuity of care with more efficiency, less stress for the patient, and a zero MRSA infection rate. Read more articles by discmdgroup.

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